The Bujinkan is the overall name given to the study of 9 traditional ryuha (schools) that Soke Masaaki Hatsumi inherited and now teaches out of the hombu dojo in Noda, Japan. The 9 schools are:
- Togakure Ryu
- Gyokko Ryu
- Koto Ryu
- Kukishinden Ryu
- Takagi Yoshin Ryu
- Shinden Fudo Ryu
- Gikan Ryu
- Kumogakure Ryu
- Gyokushin Ryu
Whilst the schools are separate and have various specialties and emphases, the formwork are similar and complement each other. The nine schools are not limited in scope and were intended to be used to convey principles of combat including distance, timing, direction, balance and timing for warriors in a non-sport environment. The schools incorporate body movement and injury avoidance, strikes, kicks, chokes, locks and holds, throws as well as numerous weapons such as sword, short and long staff, chain and sickle, throwing weapons, knife and rope.
In Japan, the training is conducted very openly with an emphasis on henka or the ability to adapt and change. For this reason, there is a lot of freedom within the Bujinkan curriculum. Different instructors therefore find different areas for focus and the depth of knowledge in the Bujinkan is very vast, with depth in many different directions.
Shoshin (初心) is a key concept in Zen Buddhism and Budo/Warrior Arts and means the “Beginners Mind”. It refers to an openness and eagerness to learn even at an advanced level. One of the desired states for zen and combat is to have no thought, no preconceived notions. The beginners mind which is open and empty is a pathway to this state.
At Shoshin Dojo our focus is on learning and the study of movement to be efficient and effective in movement in the context of combat. Therefore, training is conducted in a learning environment where training partners work together, providing guidance and resistance where needed to explore the principles within the technique.